Member of the Month: Tracey Haas, D.O., M.P.H.
Austin physician interested in helping the world’s underserved and fellow physicians alike
While Texas native Tracey Haas, D.O., M.P.H., has always claimed the state as home, her career in the medical field has allowed her to travel all over the globe. From a residency in New England where she met her husband to helping in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, Haas says she has been involved in medical missions for years and is interested in helping out the poverty stricken around the world.
She is currently the medical director for The Miracle Foundation, a nonprofit in Austin that supports orphanages in rural India. “I have had the incredible opportunity to travel to India four times to visit with and provide medical care to the children living in the Miracle Foundation homes,” says Haas. “While back in Austin I provide guidance to the group on medical care, preventive medicine, nutrition, immunizations, clean water, and environmental safety and hygiene.”
Haas also worked in post-revolution Libya in 2011, earned a Diploma of Tropical Medicine, a Global Mental Health certificate, and a Masters in Global Public Health. She is also a co-founder of DocbookMD, a secure mobile communication company created for physicians.
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it? Were you inspired by anyone?
Family medicine was a clear choice for me because I always planned to practice in rural and underserved areas around the world. The idea of taking care of all age groups, including new mothers and newborn babies alike, was ultimately what helped me make the choice. I did a rural track while at medical school (University of North Texas Health Science Center), where I was placed in Gonzales, Texas working with Dr. Commie Hisey throughout my four years of training. He and his team were a true inspiration to me and still are. Not only did I learn a tremendous amount of medicine while working with him, I learned what it meant to be a family doctor, to become a part of the community, and how medicine was really a lifestyle and not just a job. He taught me what a privilege practicing medicine is and how we can affect and impact others through simple daily choices. His humility still inspires me to do my best each day.
What is DocbookMD and how did you come to co-found it?
My husband, Tim Gueramy, is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle surgery. Very often I needed to review x-rays and tough cases with him, although our EMR and PACS systems were not compatible. After the millionth time he was called into the local ER to look at a fracture that wasn’t an emergency at all, we set out to design a way for doctors to be able to share x-rays securely on mobile phones in order to ease collaboration remotely.
We quickly realized that we needed all of the doctors to be available on the app in order for it to work, so we began partnering with our local medical society to create a secure mobile directory from which to start. Once that proved successful, we expanded our capabilities to include image sharing with EKGs, pictures of wounds, and lab work. Working together, Tim and I designed the screens, functionality, and directory capabilities that would be needed to make the communication work. Five years later, DocbookMD has 25,000 physician users across 41 states, and growing. We have brought DocbookMD to rural communities and busy urban hospitals alike, and believe working together in different specialties, while keeping better patient care and our fellow physicians at the forefront, is why our app has been so well received. Along with partnerships with state and county medical societies across the country, we have created a trusted network for doctors and their care teams.
How does operating a business like DocbookMD change the way you practice medicine?
Starting, building, and running a business for a few years has taught me a tremendous amount about how the rest of the world works and how capable we can be with just a little extra knowledge. Granted I’d had a few jobs prior to entering the world of medicine, but I had no idea there were so many aspects of running a business, such as hiring and firing, legal frameworks, and accounting nuances. After the past six years of experience, I have learned how important all of the small details are that I’d previously left up to others to manage. I have a new respect for the personal relationships that make everything run smoother, and I would definitely do more on my own and not default to the idea that others know better about how to run my practice. I let my limited business experience keep me from taking risks in the past but have since learned that we physicians know best how to make our practices more efficient, set our own schedules, and hire appropriate staff than we give ourselves credit for. Although I have left practice temporarily to run DocbookMD full time, I plan to return with a smaller team that is much more efficient and personal than before.
What is the best experience you have had throughout your career?
One of the most rewarding things I have had the opportunity to do in my career is to start the Walters Physician Incubator with my husband two years ago. Tim and I started this as an informal way for other physicians who were considering starting a business to get together and share ideas and resources. We have found that so many of our fellow doctors wanted to grow an idea into a business or create a new process for improving the way medicine is practiced, but lacked a few key ingredients to get things started. Today, we have over 100 physicians who participate. We are so inspired by their ideas which we believe are going to change the way we all take care of patients in the future.
It is important for me to be a member of AAFP and TAFP because:
Organizations like TAFP and AAFP that support physicians and advocate for our specialty’s interests are more important now than ever. From issues like scope of practice for non-physicians to health care system reform and reimbursements for care, we will need advocacy for many years, if family medicine will ever be able to continue to attract the best and brightest into our profession. We must support groups who help us elevate our image to match our importance in the health care ecosystem of this next era.
What is the most important quality a family physician should have?
It is most important to always be ready to learn something new. Whether it’s a new skill, new technology, or a new language, a family doctor will certainly use new skills constantly throughout their career.
How do you spend your free time?
Tell me something fun (unrelated to medicine) about yourself.
Before medical school, I left college for one year and taught windsurfing at a resort in Puerto Rico. To date, it was the most pivotal decision I have ever made.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.